Disease pretention.


My wordy desk companions.

@postaday 217; #postaday2011.

As part of my work here at Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA), aka, the Mothership, I not only write, but I get to help with the proofing and editing of materials we produce for the various audiences we wish to reach. These last few weeks I’ve also gotten a chance to try writing beyond my usual fare of doctor-oriented (dry!) information. I really try to pour love into those updates to the doctors and providers because I want them to be happy!

On my desk this morning is my first stab at a marketing pitch, here for me to make it more “salesy,” as the sticky note on top says. Am I Mad Woman Material? I’m pretty good at weathering the bumps of criticism, so I hope I can swing some stylish sales lingo into it the way they want.

I encountered a term while proofing another document that I actually thought might be new jargon, a new term in the upper echelon of medical research. But I flagged it, as I wanted everyone to be sure: “disease pretention.”

Having fleshed out the in-house Wiki here at HMSA, I’ve seen plenty of terms and such bandied about that this almost seemed legitimate. Imagine what an entry in Wikipedia might actually have to say about disease pretention. It might be one malady that shrouds itself with the symptoms of another. It might be another that deceives the medical community and is something completely different from what is diagnosed. It might be this, but instead it is that. So truly, would anybody be surprised at the increased use of a term such as disease pretention when it comes to discussing new illnesses? And would my own Senior Editor and Publisher, Lisa Baxa, want to claim credit for such a term surfacing under her watch? Why not?!

And in answer to someone’s question: We accidentally made it up. We’ll take future credit for it.

I wonder what my father-in-law might have to say about it all? He’s a linguist and my mother-in-law is as fascinated by word roots as anyone I know. Dinner discussions about diachronic linguistics aren’t uncommon at the family table. It’s really interesting to dissect the evolution of words, languages, vernaculars.

In so few years we have seen new words and terms swiftly introduced into our culture. Even the Associated Press Stylebook, which we replace so frequently (maybe we should go to soft copy!), has sections on social media, food and recipes, and guidelines for email, cellphone and smartphones!

I think it’s smart to roll with the new lingo as it percolates into our worlds, infiltrating our society, pushing early adopters toward the top of the food chain at work. I like to consider myself someone who welcomes the new thoughts and ideas that technology has brought to the surface. I reflect fondly on how I was soaked in classic literature as a child, while my mind was being shaped by dreamily romantic English teachers or nuns who took Latin. Now I see how that foundation makes me a stronger writer and more critical reader.

Does everything that is old become new again? Not everything. But for everything that is new, the half-life of its inspiration cannot be calculated.